My mind keeps telling me: Kelly, you’re kind of a writer.
Kind of. Those words, again?!!
I am kind of legit.
I have a book, but I still kind of question my writing.
I have another one coming some day in the future, but I kind of wonder if it will be any good?
I have some people who read this blog, but I kind of wonder if they’ll stick around?
I have creativity, but what if it kind of decides it wants to leave me one day?
Even more, I’m kind of a good mom.
I am nice, at times, but I kind of say this a lot, “You all are not listening or doing what I tell you.”
I am trying hard, but the kitchen is kind of a complete disaster zone.
I am kind of trying to keep up with the school calendar, I text moms a lot to see what’s going on.
I am kind of giving my daughter turkey too often in that lunch box.
I am a kind of wife too.
I kind of remember hugs or physical touch.
I kind of meet his needs before my own.
I kind of feel I impress him.
Can I tell you? Kind of stinks, friends. It’s so one foot in, one foot out. It is so hesitant to claim goodness. It’s so constantly wondering if it’s ever going to cross the finish line to peace.
Where are you kind of living?
Where are kind of okay with yourself?
Kind of makes everything temporary, conditional and based on you.
Certainty makes everything eternal, independent and based on God.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Ps. 40:2)
His rock is right here, in front of us. It calls to us. To you.
We can choose to step out of the mud and mire of thoughts, doubts, wonderings, hypotheses and theories – and make it to firm ground.
Ground where we become certain:
God grows us.
God provides faith.
God lights the way.
It is not a gray area. It is not nebulous. It is not done by a God who kind of shows up. No, with God: He does it. 100% he does it. He follows through and all we do is – stand firm on it.
I thought Christianity was supposed to be a “you’ve arrived kind of thing.” Whoever sold it to me that way, I want a refund. You lied.
Truth is: I am crippled and Jesus is my crutch. I lean on him.
He relieves the pressure. He does the pushing. I do the moving ahead. It’s hard. It’s uphill at times. It’s tiring. It’s a battle, no doubt.
But, I see the battle is good.
It makes us warriors.
Being a warrior makes us aware there is a war.
Being aware of war makes us think twice about how much we need our God.
Being aware of how much we need our God makes us want him more.
Us wanting him more makes us draw near to him.
Drawing near to him makes him draw near to us.
With God, no matter how it looks, we are always winning. I am okay with the battle.
The truth is Christianity is not about arriving, it is about journeying into holy. It is about grabbing hold of the hem of Jesus, as if it is the only life-preserver in the center of a raging ocean. It is about grabbing it and letting it take you where it will. Riding the waves of his truth, until the wave no longer looks like a giant killer-wave that is about to sink you, but a much smaller stretch of water that has been worked out by his love.
All your agony turns into testimony. People draw near and they say, “Wow, look at what God did with you.”
It is a miracle, when you get truthful.
This is what it is about – this thing called faith. Someone sold it to us like a bag of tricks:
You’ll get rich.
You’ll be happy.
You’ll feel good.
You’ll be delivered to everything you wanted.
You’ll find trials, but trials rise into his love.
You’ll find pain, but pain is consoled by his love.
You’ll find heartache, but you will relate to Christ’s heart of ache as it slowly dwindled on the cross.
You’ll find persecution, but you will find peace that your true love is your true love when you are willing to outlast it.
You’ll find shame, but you will wave at it and say, “God promised the world would hate me.”
You’ll find guilt, but you’ll find an advocate, in the Spirit, as you place it like a present before the filth of Jesus’ feet.
Faith it is what dreams are made of and it is what trials deliver you to. It is what will take you home.
Renewing your mind isn’t a one time ticket to delivered, it is a continual commute to holy. Being not conformed to this world is not a quick command you give yourself, but it is a diligent war that must be fought minute-by-minute.
This is a battle. We are in the center of it. Don’t give up fight. It all counts. It is all worth it. God sees. The party will begin the second the curtain closes, and it all will be worth it.
God, please teach me not to judge. Please. Teach. Me. Not. To. Judge.
Not…to judge the mom at the coffee store who is looking at her phone
when all her toddler wants is her undivided attention. I do that myself.
Not my husband who is tired when he walks through the door and is looking for rest. I always want what he requests, but I am terrified to admit it.
Not the driver who nearly side-swiped me last week and then gave me a dirty look. I nearly drove a car off the road and into shoulder this morning.
Not the woman I consider self-indulgent, self-seeking and far too self-interested. Many a day, I’ve tried to dress so well, so right, to look perfect. I want to be seen.
Not the family member who is always letting me down, getting under my skin. God, you really do know, my timely, ordered ways could drive anyone nuts.
Not the person who believes, politically, things far more different and strange than I. I’ve never walked a day in their shoes.
Not the person I look nothing like. Just because they don’t reflect me,Jesus, doesn’t mean they don’t reflect you.
Not the person making every single wrong decision in the book. I made so many bad decisions, I nearly killed myself way back when, but still, hope was never lost.
Not the one who offends me and continually tries to drive me nuts. Before I run forward with insults, I should remember they likely have a background of pain.
Not me, and all the hundreds of ways I’m offensive. I let you down all the time, but immediately, Jesus, you toss my offenses on the flip-side of this world when I say, “Sorry.”
Just as much as they are developing, I am too… We are too…
Our stories are complex. Our growth is slow. Our faith is increasing. You’ve planned it this way, God. It takes trust, piles of it. And, space, room to make allowance for others and ourselves.
Yet, when we run to cast labels, decisions, verdicts and opinions on people, we steal this space. We steal the space you’ve given us to observe. Don’t let me steal the wonder of your works. You are working something. You are moving as you will. As I give leeway, you give way to the wonderful work you’ve always intended to do.
When I fill it that space with negativity, captivity, critiques and prognoses, I steal peace, growth, hope and new life. I don’t want my mind, heart and soul filled with these degrading and base motives. What a waste! What a rip-off for them and me!
Stop me from doing that.
God, give me patience to lift others, rather than to hate them.
God, give me eyes to see your beauty in them; it is always there.
God, give me a mouth that affirms differences, not one that pushes them aside.
God, make me into a peace-maker, not a finger-pointer.
God, make me aware of my faults, so I don’t ever believe I’m too good for your calling.
God, make me need others, so I never stand above them.
God, strengthen humility, erase my pride.
God, show me the low road, so I can lift others high.
God, soften my impulses and slow down my need to decide.
God, open a door so I can walk much-needed love inside.
God, soften my heart so I can bridge great divides.
God, remove my tough skin, so you can sink inside.
Pots and pans where flung everywhere. I didn’t really know what I was doing, except I knew dinner needed to get on that table, before the two screaming heads even more flipped a lid. Move faster, Kelly.
I tried to maneuver around the crumbs and grease that were splattered everywhere. I tried to manage a deep conversation with my husband while pulling the salmon out of the oven. I threw it on the stove, checked the hardness of the fish (yep…rock-solid, alright) and then proceeded to grabb the handle with my bare hand….Yeee-oww!!!!
I burnt the living-cells right off my palm of my hand.
I’ve decided, in manic-mode, I do dumb things.
I guess you could say this is a theme in my life.
Manic-mode at work: I’d rush so fast, I’d send the “I am so frustrated at my boss” email not to my co-worker two cubes over, but directly to him.
Manic-mode in the car: I pulled out so fast out of school, I crush metal like it’s nobody’s business. Car’s totaled.
Manic-mode with kids: I fear someone is going to fall in the bathroom, so I lean over to shut the door with a baby in hand and her toe gets slammed. It busts wide open. Baby gets stitches at the ER.
My heart longs for manic-mode, sometimes. I don’t know what is wrong with me? It’s like somehow I think I am more productive there, like the hot-flashes of anxiety are going to produce something, like more will get done and somehow I’ll end up being recognized as the shining star mom of the universe. It never happens.
What is it producing? Burnt hands. Angry bosses. Ruined cars. Babies with stitches. Internal frustration. Residual guilt. Kitchens left half cleaned up because I’m either dealing with the likes of insurance agencies, ER rooms or burn marks. FAIL.
What is manic-mode producing in your life? Where do you see it show up? Why do you chase it?
I think I believe if I rush, the loud sounds of my life will hush and I’ll make space for peace. Like, I’ll run to the destination real fast and then I’ll have time left over to chill there. To lay down. It doesn’t work that way, I’m learning.
“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex. 33:14
To make peace, it works much more like this:
You ask God to be with you through everything.
You trust him to be with you through everything.
You don’t become a marathon sprinter.
You look out for God to be with you through everything.
you still don’t let yourself become a marathon sprinter.
You notice God be with you through everything.
You find some peace, and even some rest, through the process.
Why? Because He’s taking lead. The destination is not your destination, but God is the destination. And, when God is the destination, you’ve arrived.
My son limped into the kitchen unleashing small screams. He looked like a dog with a crippled leg and whined like Poodle just freed from a jammed doggy door. Needless to say, any enjoyment, quiet or solitude that comes with morning coffee left, quickly. “I can’t walk. I can’t….mommy!”
All 40-pounds of him appeared, stumbled and reached out for me in agony.
I didn’t move, just smiled and said, “Good, Michael, God is answering your prayers.”
Now before you think I’m the most insensitive mom out there, which at times, I can be, let me tell you: Kid’s been praying for strength. He’s also spent hours the day before playing at a jump-zone, a rough and tumble get-all-your energy-out kid playground of the indoor variety. Kid was plain-and-simple – sore.
Often, when we pray for strength, we’re shocked by the means in which we get it.
I explained to him how muscles tear when pushed physically, but how they repair stronger. They’re torn, so they may be rebuilt with more power.
Likewise, when we pray for growth, strength or to look like Christ, we’re often torn in order to be rebuilt with more power.
What tears are you experiencing today? What might be breaking for God’s remaking?
Be not discouraged, the tearing starts the rebuiliding. What he’s pulling on, will become more beautiful in time. What He’s doing is not to hurt you, but to help you. What strength you’ve prayed for, is likely in process.
We can’t see it in the moment, because, in the moment, is a test of sorts, kind of like this:
(Jesus) said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. John 6:5-6
Jesus was building Philip’s faith muscle. He tested it to see if it was strong and then, by multiplying loaves and fish, he ripped his disbelief and made it whole.
He’s likely doing that with us too.
What might God be calling you to believe in?
Inviting you to see?
Tearing so he can make it even bigger, bolder and better for his name?
My head was just as much in a fog as my identical surroundings. I could no longer a foot past my windshield. I could no longer see the water I knew surrounded the bridge. It was gone, swallowed by the wholeness of the sky. Everything about this morning represented my feelings: confused, torn and worn.
Will God break through when I cannot see?
Does He see me when I feel I’m in this place of nothingness? Does He care about my problems enough to fix them? Does he run to the rescue of a daughter who feels alone?
Upon arrival, I got out of the car and walked, as I planned to. I wandered the grounds; I hoped to meet Jesus. Will He show up?
A tad discouraged, I kept knocking. I kept asking. God says he answers this type of seeker, that He opens things up for them (Mt. 7:7). We can always try.
Placing him on the top of our mind…
We can hope in the fact that Jesus is our hope…
And, with this, I realized something about perseverance, prayer and fog:
Prayer: Those who desperately press into God’s heart, always find it.
Perseverance: If we keep running, even when we can’t see, we begin to see by faith. It’s almost like we don’t have to see all the answers. We know a good God does. We know his ways are not like ours. We know, every time, eventually, the fog lifts.
Fog: It’s not all bad.
If we let God’s love fog our mind, we see what matters. We cloud out worries, heartache and endless thoughts. We recognize the futility of all those matters. We notice His complete wrapping, His unfolding. We see Him. Just us – and Him. There’s no pressure to be elsewhere, for we can’t see it. It doesn’t matter. And, what we see? It’s Him. What matters. And, somehow we know, now, we see just right.We’ve found what we’re searching for.
My son has been learning about the devil in school. He’s also been learning about the archangel Michael. So, in the adorableness of all his toddler years, he’s been playing an action hero game, of sorts, where he’s got a split personality. One minute, his face contorts into the completion of all meaness (cute alert!!!) and the next, the softness and heroic nature of angel Michael returns (Yay!! Peace & calm for mommy!).
I’m the target of his wrath when he’s all devil-faced and vengeful, because, here, he attempts to spit in my face (and sometimes wins). He tumbles me to the ground. He declares I’ll be ruined, I’m bad and a goner! He pulls with all his might trying to get me into the lake of fire. He yells at me. I’m in for it.
It’s the match of all matches.
And, I still can’t figure out why angel-face hardly ever shows up? I’m left fending against his wild and unpredictable attacks, his yells and pushes. I try to do my best but it gets tiring and sometimes I feel like giving up. I have to be on guard for his quick moves. I have to anticipate what is happening next: a diversion, a distraction, a mean word, a pull, a push or a tug.
Undoubtedly, it’s a wrestling match.
If I don’t fight, I lose.
If I don’t stand up for myself, I’ll fall into that lake.
If I don’t press in, He’ll pin me down.
If I don’t speak back against his lies that I am bad, I’ll give in to them.
If I don’t speak the truth, I’ll feel injured, debased and abused.
If I don’t push back a bit, I’ll be punished by the ridicule of his words.
Fighting against the devil is a wrestling match; if you don’t push back, you be mentally pushed where you don’t want to go. You’ll believe things, God doesn’t want you to believe. You’ll go places, God never intended you go.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12
The fight is real! R.E.A.L. Really happening.
Yet, to stand firm, to remain in faith and to preserve our heart, we must, like I wrestled against my son, fight back: He moves in with a sly word, a mistruth, we push back, with a Word from God. He tries to spit out doubt God will really help through prayer, we get down on our knees and pray anyway. He yells loudly we’re so stupid and always failing, and we declare even louder that Christ’s power is perfected in our weakness. He grabs our leg to pull us into temptation, to slowly move us where we never intended to go, we say, “Not a chance I’m going there! That will remove me from the joy, peace and purposes of the Lord!”
We get really serious about wrestling to win. Not in a way where we are afraid to lose, because, Great is our power over the enemy, thanks to Jesus Christ. But, in a way where we know the lies, the pulls, the beginnings of a match when we see one. Then, we engage to win.
And, guess what, we do. He can’t touch us.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Eph. 6:11
I am annoyed one way or another, yet seeking more.
I am discouraged by people, circumstances or problems and attempting to see things through new light.
I am thrown off, but working my way back to God.
Many days, I’ve used this blog as a counseling session. I like it this way: I come with issues – God comes with strength. I come weak – the Lord comes strong enough to change me. I come needy, he comes increasingly ready to feed me.
This is our power, coming weak. This is our life change, coming needy. This is our faith, being reliant.
God answers this approach.
But, I don’t want you to ever think, not for a moment, that I am not entirely thankful. You see, my posture of leaning on him, almost always, helps me discover how he holds me up. It reminds me that, every time, he is faithful. It helps me see that through every bump in the road, He’s the shocks softening the jolting impact of life. He smooths my ride.
I call. He answers as I keep seeking.
I cry. He catches my tears when I focus my mind on him.
I am in pain. He understands and draws near as I pursue his Word.
I need. As I wait (which sometimes feels like forever), He faithfully and, in his timing, rushes in.
He’ll do the same for you.
What kind of grief do you need to lean up against him to know he is strong enough to hold it?
The counselor waits.
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Maybe, like me, you’ll come out from an eating disorder, depression, financial trials, huge health issues or relational problems, thankful, in awe, and amazed at what he just saved you from – if you’ll just turn in.
Before you know it, He’ll work: soften your edges, sand off your rough spots, make space for his movement. Love and peace will come busting into your heart.
I’ve found this, after day-in-and-day-out writing on this blog…
I see God’s goodness in the land of my living grief, fear and guilt – when I run after it – hard.
What all seemed impossible, turned possible. We have the ability to reach God’s transcendent, his abundance. He loves us.
All this is the source of thanksgiving. As God enters the nitty gritty, the down and dirty of your life, you can’t help but lift your arms, lift your voice and give a good shout out to his character.
Today, I am thankful. What might you need to offer to God, knowing that soon enough, by faith, you’ll be giving thanks to God?
Life, no doubt, lives like war. Daily, we wake, and don’t know what attack might come our way. We don’t know if we might get that phone call, if our small health issue may turn into a big problem or if we may hit a relational snag that leaves us knot-tied for weeks.
We wake up. Usually, we blindly head into it.
I don’t know about you, but a lot of days, I feel like I wake vulnerable, open for attack and easily knocked down. The battles move so fast, some days, it is hard to get ahead of them. It is hard be be one step faster or to create a battle plan, especially when you don’t know what is coming.
But, lately, I’ve been thinking much about moving from defensive faith to offensive faith. I think the stance makes all the difference.
A defensive faith stance is:
– Waking and going through the motions
– Reading God’s Word in the morning then going into the day
– Praying when troubles hit
– Asking people to help you when you are in a serious ditch
– Acknowledging God when something really great happens in your life
An offensive faith stance is:
– Waking and proclaiming God’s truths over your life (God is with me, for me, above me, before me…)
– Moving God’s word from your head to your heart by dwelling on it throughout the day
– Praying perpetually, in the car, in your house, in your free time.
– Having a team of people to support your faith walk. Knowing they will check in on you.
– Praising God as you see his glory through your day.
– Thanking God continually for all you have.
A Christian on offense moves into the battlefield not only able to withstand war, but ready to win. They see not only what is coming against them, but they are prepared with a tactical plan to love, when usually they’d be prone to fear. It changes their eyesight. Rather than being a pawn they are now a son or daughter of the King, one loved, provided for and helped along the way. They are an active force of good on the spiritual game board of good and evil. God knows they are ready, I believe. He sees their faith and willingness to prepare. He rewards them for seeking him diligently.
This person understands, it is not their own willpower that wins, it is not their mindset that overcomes, but it is the blood of Jesus that won for them. In humility, they stand under God so that he can move over their lives and into the lives of others.
This kind of person proclaims: Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle – my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me.” (Psalm 144:1)
Pop Quiz: What is a very small thing in size that has a gigantic impact regarding the direction of your life?
Clue: It moves, kind of flippantly, up and down.
Got it yet?
This should help: “Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:3-6
It can speak liberty or captivity that sinks a heart.
It can speak faith or fear that you’ll always live in the basement and never get anywhere in life.
It can tell you you’ll be stuck in that dead-end job with a boss you hate or
it can profess glory, glory, glory and holy, holy, holy!
It can rip a person apart and spit them out like day old coffee or
it can savor the goodness of others and remind them of it with an intentional word of kindness.
It can blabber about a person who never should have taken your parking space like that,
a family member who is so wrong, an insensitive and unthoughtful husband,
or it can cut through the tension and speak aloud every virtue of God.
It can send you into high places, with high people to confess high things of importance,
or it can keep stuck in the gutter, speaking a whole litany of unholy words that keep you unhappy.
It can halt its movement and literally change the density of another’s heart,
moving a person from defensive to receptive in an instant.
How do you use your tongue?
I can almost hear you all glaring back at me, saying, “Well, Kelly, how do you use your tongue?”
Not so well, friends. This lesson, and every lesson I write, really, is for me because, much more than dwelling on the immensity of God, I taste and swallow negativity. I constantly internally talk about the ways I’m failing to make good meals, spend enough time with the kids before bedtime and open up the door to my husband when he arrives home with a smile and thoughtful motives, like not bombarding him with the daily happenings at first sight of his brown hair. I, then, throw out words, like daggers, because I feel bad about myself.
It’s not easy.
The problem is, my tongue likes to go. My mouth wants to speak, incessantly. My complaints, grievances and objections are many. It is very hard to shut the trap when it wants to catch something wrong, and, golly day, and fix it with my words.
But, fault-pointing words usually fix nothing. And, all they end up trapping is me – in dejection, demotivation and frustration. Get me out of here – I’m stuck!!!
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Prov. 18:21
By looking deep into this verse, it appears, just as much as my words can get me stuck in a rut – or kill me, they can also lift me out of ruts, and feed me. I like that. I like the idea my words can literally provide me sustenance, food and energy. I like that by changing the course of my words, I can change the course of my life. I can move into into go-mode, into vision and into purpose that surpasses my own thoughts, limitations and plans.
5 Ways to Use Your Tongue to Change the Course of Your Life (for the better):
Constantly speak what is excellent, true, pure, good, right, honorable, admirable, praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). If it doesn’t fall in one of those categories, carry it on over to the trash can and dispose of it. It should be taken to the dump instead of coming out of your mouth like a stinky mess bound to hurt you and leave you overwhelmingly frustrated that your life doesn’t look better.
Let Praise Be Your Chatter. If you lift God up with your tongue, you’ll lift your mind up too. It is natural. You can’t be acknowledging the magnificence and the righteousness of God and still be stuck in a hole. He grabs you and pulls you up to heavenly perspectives when you do some fine-tuning.
Say thanks. Thank you that you have great plans for me, God. Thank you, husband, you are so thoughtful. Thank you, children, you are listening so well. Thank you, self, you are giving your whole heart to speaking carefully and intentionally. Thank you, world, I have such a great opportunity not to react, but to reach out to you and share Jesus
Speak humility. Best said, this means letting the voice of Jesus go before you. It means letting his heart be your words. It means letting his holy verses take flight so they come shooting out of your mouth before your own perceptions or intentions rule you (I know, not easy!). But, it is possible. We have the mind of Christ, which means, it should change us to speak with the mouth of Christ.
Don’t use it: don’t open your mouth, don’t utter a word, don’t speak a sigh, don’t offer a grunt, don’t release a criticism, don’t give flight to judgement. There are times, when the best speech you can give is silence. The best course of treatment you can give is dead air. Why? Because it is often in the lack of words, that God pours out the abundance of grace that changes a person’s heart from contemptuous to contrite.
This very small part has the ability to lead people to Christ, to change demeanors, to open eyes, to counsel the needy through disasters, to promote love, to inflict compassion and to listen. It’s amazing.
Let’s choose to use it as it was intended to be: a weapon of goodness that cuts through people’s hearts using the sword of the spirit, God’s Word. This is effective speech:
Parlaying his majesty into the day that lays ahead of you.
Speaking his glory into the places where you feel hurt.
Highlighting truth in the midst of emotions that are as wild as a bucking bronco.
Correcting another (or yourself) with the tone of compassion, grace and mercy.
Singing wonder about all that He has created.
Recounting the many times – God’s shown up in your life and how he remains consistent. Reflecting on the limitless nature of His power and being okay with it sitting on you.
Declaring his faithfulness, returning to this truth once again.
Demonstrating his humility, speaking less and listening more.
Let it out. Be not ashamed. Be not restrained. Be forthcoming. Be powerful. Change your life and change theirs.